Crimes Against Children Research Center: Trends in Arrests of “Online Predators”

The Crimes Against Children Research Center has released a new report noting that the types of online sex crime  offenses haven’t changed much, but the profile of your average online predator has been shifting.

I have read the actual report as well as the methodology (methodology available here, report available here) and, while I am no expert in report methodology, I can not spot any serious flaws.  This seems to be a well thought out study that avoids the typical hysteria and FUD that is oh-so-common in this type of work.

Some notable findings:

  • Online sex crimes only account for 1% of all arrests for sex crimes committed against children and youth.
  • Most of the arrests involved solicitation of undercover officers and not actual youth.
  • The percentage of internet users ages 12-17 rose by 20% between 2000 and 2006, at the same time there was a 21% increase in arrests of offenders who solicited youth online for sex and a 381% increase in arrests of offenders who solicited undercover officers.
  • There was a significant increase in arrests of offenders between the ages of 18-25.

There were some distinct differences between this report’s findings and my own perceptions:

  • Most offenders were open about their motives in their online communication with youth.
  • Only 4% of those arrested (in total) were registered sex offenders.
  • The majority of contacts did not occur through social network sites (social network sites accounted for just over 30%).

For those that have kids or are involved in family law, internet crime or data forensics and investigations this is likely to be an interesting read.

Any further comments and observations would be great too!

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